Lunchables are often a kid favorite because they are small, fun, and allow your kids to put their own little cracker sandwiches together. Unfortunately, they are highly processed and filled with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and preservatives. If you have kids that love these lunches, you can make them the same thing, but a much healthier version. Plus you can save some money! Read on to see how to make a healthier Lunchable.
The Components of a Lunchable:
If you want to make a custom lunch that is similar to a Lunchable, you will first need to start with the basic components. Each traditional lunchable has two forms of protein, a starch, a sweet, and a drink. With your own custom version, you can stick with the two proteins and one starch, such as meat and cheese with whole grain bread or crackers. However, I would recommend replacing the cookie or candy with either a fruit or vegetable, then choose a healthier drink option, like a mini bottle of water. You can add some a splash of fruit juice for flavor or lemon, lime, or do infused fruit.
Ham and American Cheese Lunchable
A popular type of Lunchable is one with ham and American cheese. If you want to make one that is a little healthier and not made of processed ingredients, start with ham you have cooked on the bone, then cut thin slices on your own. This allows you to make your own luncheon meat slices. You can also have the deli cut fresh ham for you.
Add some cubed cheese that is not processed, such as what a deli can offer you, or with a block of cheese you have cut yourself. Try to use cheddar, mozzarella, Colby, or other cheese instead of American.
Add these ingredients to the lunch box with some whole grain crackers and water or a low sugar juice on the side. You can then add some fruits and veggies to go with it. Feel free to add some dip for veggies if it helps get your little ones to eat the vegetables.
Turkey and Cheese Lunchables
Same as for the above Ham and Cheese Lunchable, you can cook a whole turkey breast (It cooks in 25 minutes in an InstaPot!). To get the best result like lunchmeat, cool it then slice. The meat can be frozen into 1/2 pound bags or whatever you would use up in a few days. You can also purchase preservative free/nitrate free turkey/lunchmeat to use.
Pizza Lunchables are popular with my daughter. Pita bread works great for these. You can choose a whole grain option which is better than the white. I buy mini baggies in the jewelry section of Wal-Mart of a store like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or JoAnn’s. These are perfect for putting some pizza sauce in so it can be squirted out. Add some shredded cheese and other toppings. You can choose turkey pepperoni but could also try chopped veggies like broccoli to add.
When making lunches, if you can get your child to help each night, it might help get them to eat better. Giving appropriate choices helps them feel in control. Offer vegetables and fruits as options. Try to have them choose from each lunch component: protein/starch or grain/ fruit/vegetable/dairy such as yogurt/ and drink.
Any Lunchable your child likes can easily be made into a healthier alternative for their lunch! To figure the carbs, just look at each individual item you added. If you need help with counting carbohydrates, here’s a post of Carb Counting Made Easy.
Here’s some other ideas for lunches: